Early Modern Exchanges

Prof Robert Mills

Prof Robert Mills


Dept of History of Art

Faculty of S&HS

Joined UCL
1st Jul 2012

Research summary

  • Although the central core of my research focuses on the visual culture and literature of England and France between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries, I have also published on art in the Low Countries, Germany and Italy. My first book Suspended Animation: Pain, Pleasure and Punishment in Medieval Culture (2005), which came out of my doctoral research, shows this range. One of the essay collections I co-edited, The Monstrous Middle Ages (2003), exemplifies my commitment to research with a strong interdisciplinary focus.

  • I have longstanding interests in gender and sexuality, both as historical phenomena and critical categories. I have published a number of chapters and articles in this field, and I contributed the medieval section to A Gay History of Britain (2007). Feminist theory, queer studies and LGBT cultural history have always exerted a shaping influence on my research. At King’s I was director of the Queer@King’s research centre, and I have organized a number of symposia, conferences, research seminars and public events under this heading.

  • Recently I completed a book called Seeing Sodomy in the Middle Ages. This book explores the relationship between sodomy and motifs of vision and visibility in medieval culture, on the one hand, and those categories we today call ‘gender’ and ‘sexuality,’ on the other. Built around a core of texts and images from high and late medieval England, France and Italy, Seeing Sodomy foregrounds the role played by translation – visual, textual and cultural – in defining when and how male and female same-sex relations become intelligible. I am also interested in issues of translation more generally and 2012 sees the publication another co-edited collection, Rethinking Medieval Translation: Ethics, Politics, Theory.

  • I am now turning his attention to questions of the animal and interspecies desire in medieval culture. I am currently developing a book project on this theme. I have also published essays on queer theory, museums and public culture and I hope to return to these topics in future research.

Teaching summary

  • BA teaching: In 2013/14 I will be contributing lectures to the BA Foundation and Core courses, and co-teaching the 2nd year course 'Methodologies of Art History'. Previously I've taught a 2nd-year course on 'Relics, Saints, Images and Power' and a 1st-year thematic seminart on 'Regarding Pain'. In future years I'm hoping to develop a course in gender, sexuality and selfhood in medieval art; I also have interests in medievalism and contemporary encounters with the Middle Ages, which I would like to develop in a teaching context.
  • MA teaching: In 2013/14 I am teaching an MA special subject 'Human and Nonhuman in Medieval Art', as well as co-teaching the MA core course in the spring. 
  • PhD supervision: I have previously supervised or co-supervised several projects through to completion. Topics include the philosophy of kingship in medieval England, representations of the unspeakable and psychoanalytic approaches to medieval mysticism. I am very interested in supervising doctoral projects on any aspect of medieval visual culture (broadly defined); research situated at the interface between the visual and the verbal; projects on animals and animal-human relations. I am also interested in supervising research on medieval gender and sexuality, as well as work exploring aspects of queer history and art history in any period from a theoretical perspective.


University of Cambridge
PhD, History of Art | 2001
University of Manchester
MA, History of Art | 1996
University of Manchester
BA Hons, Medieval Studies | 1994


I graduated from the University of Manchester with a BA in Medieval Studies in 1994 and an MA in the History of Art in 1996. I completed my PhD in the Department of History of Art at the University of Cambridge in 2000. The focus of my doctoral research was representations of pain and punishment in medieval art and literature and there has always been an interdisciplinary bent to my profile. Reflecting these interests, I was appointed as Lecturer in English at King’s College London in 2001, where I remained for eleven years, before joining the History of Art Department at University College London in 2012.